Sunday, April 02, 2017
In her photo essay “Fantasy Life,” Tabitha Soren has captured this sense of tentative possibility. For years, she followed the careers of the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 draft class: twenty-one players, all drafted at the same time. A handful made it to the top, like the former New York Yankee Nick Swisher, who enjoyed a twelve-year major-league career, including a World Series title, in 2009; most did not. But in Soren’s pictures all of the men are in the throes of their own baseball fantasy. We see a rite of passage, and it seems like these players—arranged in a tidy pattern as they stretch out on the turf or scattered across the diamond before rows of empty seats—will be rewarded for their time served. This is how I felt during my pro career: it seemed like the ice baths and slumping Aprils, the mosquito-riddled outfields, were all part of our assured destiny.
A review of Tabitha Soren’s (yes, that Tabitha Soren) photo essay, Fantasy Life, by Doug Glanville. Includes 12 very cool pictures.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Billy Beane shouldn’t have taken those photos.
“Fantasy Life” is subtitled “Baseball and the American Dream,” and the idea behind it is striking ... and ambitious. In 2002, the A’s used a counterintuitive strategy, the now-famous Moneyball philosophy, to draft players. They didn’t concern themselves much with all those subjective things that had motivated scouts through the years—tools, body type, potential, etc.—and instead focused more on production and statistical analysis. Their most famous pick was Jeremy Brown, an All-America catcher at Alabama, who many scouts thought was too fat to play in the Major Leagues.
“We’re not selling jeans here,” A’s general manager Billy Beane famously said about Brown’s rather unathletic body.
“That’s good,” one scout replied. “Because if you put him in corduroys, he’d start a fire.”
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
And we probably haven’t seen the last of deals like this. If Rasmus can only get $5 million, and no one would take Seth Smith at $7 million, how does Brandon Moss ask for significantly more? What kind of offers are Carter and Pedro Alvarez going to get in a world where similar hitters with better defensive abilities are settling for cut-rate contracts just to land a job.
On the one hand, we could look at deals like this and think that perhaps the market has decided to pay less than the roughly $8 million per win rate for marginal starters, preferring to save their money for better players overall. But this downturn in spending on +1 WAR veterans only shows up when we look at bat-first 1B/OF/DH types.
The market has long overpaid one-dimensional power hitters. This, though, feels like more than just a simple market correction. When perfectly useful players on one year deals for $7 million can’t get moved for even a non-prospect, it feels like the pendulum has swung too far the other way. It’s time to jump on this, contenders; these bargains won’t last forever.
I’ve been thinking something similar for a while. This seems to go beyond mere WAR valuations. Contra: Dave Kingman and Rob Deer bounced around.
Monday, December 19, 2016
If there’s anything that the political market is full of, it’s inefficiencies. And the Trump team, to its credit, understood just that. The easy story to tell about Trump is one of a billionaire bully who preyed on prejudice to push the first female president out of the White House. But there’s another story to be told, one about an underdog campaign that raised about half as much money as its opponent and managed to win anyway, in part by disregarding common campaigning strategies and focusing on the inherent inefficiencies of the electoral college.
Alec Baldwin takes a team of lovable misfits
(As always, views expressed in the article lede and comments are the views of the individual commenters and the submitter of the article and do not represent the views of Baseball Think Factory or its owner.)
Saturday, December 10, 2016
A lot of good stuff. Read the whole thing.
Teams in the more recent period not only had a lower average win total in the 90-win season, but suffered a bigger decline the following season, were less likely to win more games or to win 90 again and more likely to have a losing season. Winning now is more ephemeral: Winning 92 games and making the playoffs as opposed to winning 85 and falling short is often not just the residue of clever team-building, but to the vagaries of luck, injuries and random career seasons.
for his generous support.
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